Winter can be a tough season for families with young kids. Shorter days and colder temperatures often lead to more time inside. If you have a toddler, you know how crazy they can get if they’re cooped up indoors too long.
Taking a toddler out in the snow can seem a little daunting. But, with the right prep and the right activity, you’ll have your family enjoying the snowy outdoors in no time.
Snowshoeing is a great winter activity for families. With a little extra planning, it’s even great for families with toddlers.
We started snowshoeing with our toddler and are so glad we did. It has quickly become her favorite outdoor activity. She loves seeing new things, playing in the snow with our pups and even gets a great nap in our favorite backpack carrier.
If you’re not sure about snowshoeing with your toddler, check out our helpful tips and find out how to make it your family’s next great adventure.
Start with a Comfortable Infant Backpack
One of the most important decisions to make is how to carry your little one while snowshoeing. We tried a few different options before finding the best for our family. Here are some thoughts we had about each one.
Osprey Poco Plus
This is our current carrier, and it’s our favorite option so far. Here’s why:
- Comfort: As our daughter grew taller and heavier, this backpack remained super comfortable to wear.
- Easy to adjust: My wife and I take turns carrying her on our outings. The Poco Plus is easy to adjust on the fly to fit each of us when we switch.
- Foot Straps: We love the foot straps to keep our daughters’ legs comfortable
- Sunshade: We use the sunshade even in the winter to help with blocking wind. It also gives our daughter’s head a little extra support when she slips off to sleep.
- Storage: The Poco Plus has more storage than the other backpack carriers that we have tried. We can take extra coats, water, and of course snacks.
For more information on the Poco Plus Childpcarrier click here.
We used the Ergo 360 when our daughter was younger. We ultimately replaced it with the Poco Plus, but we enjoyed it for many reasons when she was small.
- Forward and Inward facing positions: It’s easier to protect your kiddo from the wind when they are facing toward you. When she was a little older we switched to the forward-facing position. She loved to see where we were headed.
As she grew, the Ergo carrier became a little uncomfortable, both for her riding and for us carrying.
The Thule Chariot is a pull-behind, enclosed seat for baby. It has wheels and can be pulled by a bike. Thule also sells a ski attachment. We tried the Thule Chariot once while we were Snowshoeing. Here’s what we thought.
- Cost: It’s the most expensive option as the ski set is sold separately.
- Difficult for uphill treks: When you are snowshoeing it’s easy to pull on flat ground but any uphills were a bear to get up. Going downhill was a little treacherous as we felt the chariot pushing us down a little too quickly.
Snowshoeing with a two year old
Snacks: The Key to a Happy Snowshoeing Trip
As a toddler parent, this may go without saying: Never go snowshoeing without bringing adequate snacks and water.
As we mentioned earlier, one of the reasons we love the Poco plus backpack is all the storage space. It has plenty of pockets for snacks. There’s also plenty of room for your toddler to hold sippy cups and snack cups on the go. They can even rest them on the pack itself.
Check out our go-to snacks and containers here.
We like to start the trip off with a snack while she takes in all the excitement. After some sightseeing and snowshoeing, she happily doses off in her carrier for the second half of the trip.
Dress for the Cold
Always keep in mind that your toddler’s extremities are the most vulnerable to the cold. Make sure you keep their hands, feet, and head covered from the cold.
It’s important to keep your toddler protected from the cold. Consider investing in a snowsuit. There are a ton to choose from, but our favorite is this one from Columbia. It offers great protection from the wind. You can even keep your toddler’s hands and feet tucked in with covers and also leave them uncovered.
Everyday shoes are not going to cut it when snowshoeing. Your toddler needs to wear shoes that will keep the cold and dampness out.
On our first trip, we tried without any shoes and used heavy socks. We thought her snowsuit would be sufficient coverage to keep her feet warm. This didn’t work out too well when she wanted to stand up for a bit.
Toddlers don’t often like boots on their feet because of how stiff they are but after a few tries, our daughter now loves them. We had her wear them in the house multiple times before using them outside and now she knows that when we get them out she is going somewhere fun. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get fancy boots, just something that will stand up to the elements.
We haven’t had great success with gloves at this point. Our daughter hates them because she can’t grab her snacks or hold her sippy cup. We let her start barehanded at first, even in severely cold weather. Once she has had her fill, we tuck her hands in the covering that’s part of her snowsuit.
Who doesn’t love little kids in beanies?! This is the cutest thing there is. We have multiple beanies as she grows out of them fast. We recommend one that goes down far enough to cover the cheeks and bottoms of the ears.
Make sure that you have sunglasses
If your toddler is like mine, they probably hate sunglasses. Work on getting them used to wearing a pair. The snow reflects nearly 80% of the sun’s UV rays and the UV radiation increased 4-5% for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain which is where all the snow is!
Children and people with lighter color eyes are more at risk for sun associated eyed damage. We recommend getting some sunglasses that have a loop to keep them on their head. Look for sunglasses that have UV protection and are durable enough to be dropped time and time again.
FAQ's: Toddlers and Snowshoeing
Is Snowshoeing Dangerous to Infants?
No, not at all. If you do it right, it is beneficial for your kids to get outside. As long as you and your child are dressed correctly, then there is very little risk. Babies as young as 2 weeks old often sleep and nap outside in freezing temperatures in Norway without any issues.
Outdoor time and play are beneficial for kids of all ages. Playing outdoors:
- strengthens the immune system
- improves coordination
- Develops motor control
- improves vitamin D retention
- Promotes healthy habits for life
How Cold is Too Cold for Snowshoeing with an Infant?
The main issue with severe low temperatures is the wind chill. Babies’ skin isn’t as well prepared as adults to withstand long exposure to cold temperatures. If the wind chill reaches below -15 F, it’s too cold for prolonged exposure.
If you’re worried about your toddler being too cold, consider the chariot option with a full-dome to protect him or her from the wind.
How Long Can a Toddler Snowshoe For?
This all depends on the toddler and what they have been exposed to in their life. For the first time, we don’t recommend going longer than 30 minutes at first. You have to factor in the travel time in the car strapped in, backpack time, and then return travel all strapped in. That’s a lot of strapped in time!
You can start to push it a little longer each time that you and your little one get out for a snowshoe. Just plan for the longer trips with more snacks, diapers, and wipes. Also, a key tip is don’t forget that you have just as much time getting back to the car as you do going out. Don’t snowshoe until your toddler gets upset and fussy because it is too late at that point.
Other Tips for a Successful Snowshoe Trip
Change the diaper right before
This is key and likely something you won’t need reminding until you forget once. Trust us, you do not want to change a diaper when the temperatures are freezing and little bottoms are exposed. It makes for a long trip, so just make sure to do it before leaving.
Check frequently for skin exposed to wind and snow
This was already mentioned but easy to forget to non-obvious places that wind and cold might have access to. This includes where a jacket and glove might meet, or watch for a pant leg to creep up exposing the skin on the leg. Also, it’s best to stop from time to time to make sure that they haven’t taken off their hats or exposed their ears.
Don’t be afraid
It’s always a little scary to try something new with a toddler. It took us a bit to work up the nerve. We worried that our daughter would be fussy and cry the whole time. We were worried about nothing. Each time we went it got easier and she enjoyed it more. It was always a positive experience and we learned something new for the next trip. If you’re on the fence, just go for it.
Use a pacifier if you need
We almost didn’t bring a pacifier along on the first trip. I worried that the saliva around her mouth would make her colder. After some research, we found that using a pacifier helps increase blood flow through their cheeks and mouth. It helps prevent their face from getting too cold.
Also, the pacifier serves its normally intended function on the trail so that you can go further and your kiddo will be less fussy when they are in the backpack.
Plan around a Nap
Our daughter falls asleep almost every time we snowshoe so you can plan around a normal nap time or you might have to break their one nap into two shorter ones. She never naps the entire time but it’s almost a guarantee that she will nap for a bit. How can one resist snacks, a warm outfit, and the gentle sway of a backpack?
Go for it!
Snowshoeing with a toddler might sound like a nightmare idea at first, but it’s one of the best ways to get outside and enjoy time with the family. Don’t be intimidated. If you plan thoroughly, pack all the right stuff in the right gear, and wear warm enough clothing, you are sure to have a great time snowshoeing with your toddler.